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Just You Wait

Great reminder from an awesome lady… who happens to be my wife.

My Mommy Stuff

Photo Courtesy of Masterpeace Creatives

I love that my daughter is so much “easier” than my son. It’s not just because this is my 2nd time around. She really is a calmer, more laid back child and a much better sleeper. (Although Caleb set the bar really low for sleeping through the night.) But no sooner than I finish my sentence, someone, a woman and mother none the less, udders those 3words.

Just. You. Wait. 

Did you hear that? It was the sound of my happy 2nd child bubble being popped. “Just you wait until . . .” (fill in the blank with some negative remark). Thanks lady! That’s what every mom of 2 little kids wants to hear . . . your negative input! I didn’t ask for your opinion, nor did I walk by you and blurt out this information. You commented on how peaceful my child was…

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I Went All The Way To Africa To Help Poor People And Couldn’t Find Any

 Not a single one.

I saw people eating scraps of maize. Torture survivors. Pregnant rape victims. Lepers. Crippled grandmothers. Blind great-grandmothers. The list goes heartbreakingly on.

I witnessed thousands of people living in poverty this week but not one poor person. In fact, the people I encountered were so rich I felt spiritually under-dressed for the trip.

The primal huts and slums of Katwe, Nateete, Gulu and Pugwini all live up to their National Geographic expectations. Smells of charcoal, raw food, diesel and decay. Scavenging varmint. Rusty red air. Naked children. Archaic commerce with little modern mechanization.

The poverty is so unreal it feels like a bad dream. Then you remember it’s someone’s daily reality.

Pugwini, Uganda

Uganda’s collective facial expression is stoic. Her body is beautifully resilient yet her mind is tired. Uganda works just as hard as she prays. Financially, emotionally and spiritually left for dead, Uganda is a rotting cog in the machine that is Africa.

But still I saw no poor people.

Though we share the same sun and 24-hour day, time in Uganda passes very differently than in America. For many of us in the United States our days are disposable. Each one is used for a specific thing and then tossed into the landfill of our busy life as we reach for another thing. Things are important to us.

The Ugandans I observed seem to savor the day, with little rush to get to the end yet an appreciation that they did. They seemed grateful for today but very neutral about tomorrow. I expected hopelessness but found hope. I suspect my American definition of the word blinded me to what it really means. Things are not important to them.

Gulu, Uganda

By all global economic measures I am a rich person. So I went all the way to Africa to help poor people. Instead I discovered how rich they are and that the poorest people were actually back in my country.

I’m not making light of their poverty and suffering. It’s real. It’s happening right now. It’s beyond explanation. It’s wrong. It pisses me off. But most of all it makes me sad.

But God makes beauty from ashes and Uganda is His next top model.

The people I encountered love God with their whole heart. They are unashamed to sing, talk or share about Him. They love one another. Many of them have suffered horrors at the hands of their own countrymen but many more are striving to save their community.

And I humbly stand with them. This week wasn’t a “poverty safari” to observe slum dwellers in their natural habitat. It wasn’t a bucket-list mission trip to check off on my Christian scorecard. It was God’s will working though His people and I confess that I was tardy reporting for duty.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (‭1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭18‬) 

I thought I would see poor people in pain. I discovered rich people who happen to live in poverty.

I saw barefoot kids run to inspect Daryl’s white skin (they call Caucasians “mzungas”) and love on him.


I saw naked orphans with flies orbiting their bodies giggle with joy for piggyback rides.


I saw national chess champions practicing in one of the worst slums in the world.


I spent the day with a guy who was once too broke to afford rat poison and kill himself – now there’s a Disney movie in production about his work in the slums of Katwe.


I saw former drop outs and opium addicts who were now star players for their soccer club.

I met a teenage rape survivor who forgives her attacker and wants to be a veterinarian.

Most of all, I saw people who are just as normal as I think I am. Not everyone was from a slum or a hut and several were very well educated. In fact, we spent time with 2 gentleman, Jimmy and David, who reminded us of ourselves.

In all fairness, for every story of overcoming poverty there is also a story of unhealed, unresolved pain. I didn’t see any poor people in Uganda but I know they exist. Despite being seemingly broken beyond repair I saw very many smiles and laughs.

And tears.


Most days I rationed my tears until I was safely in my hotel room, for fear I would bring even more rain to their parade. I wasn’t always succesful. As I stood in front of the 30 teenage girls at Christine’s House, who had all been savagely abused, I lost it.

I told them I love them and have been praying for them for quite some time. I told them I have a daughter, a wife, a mother and sisters, and that it makes me sad to think of this happening to them. I told them since God adopted us out of sin into His salvation, we are all family. They are my sisters and daughters.

I told them I don’t just want to pray for them anymore. I want to do something. We all can start somewhere and Sports Outreach, Freedom 4/24 and Christian Relief Fund are just a few of the organizations making it easy to get involved.

The next day we sang and worshipped God together. I read Matthew 5 and taught about being the salt and light of the world, with the help of a very patient translator. They showed me how to make African donuts and proudly showcased their dress making skills. Some are already building houses and huts, planting crops and cities and giving God big-time glory. They want better for tomorrow while making the best of today.

The girls of Christine’s House are beautiful dreamers. And it’s contagious.


To be honest, I did more “ministry” in 1 week in Uganda than 1 year back home. They are rich and invested generously into me. They taught me that living in abject poverty doesn’t mean you live in absolute despair. Joy isn’t the absence of problems it’s the presence of God.

I went to Africa to find and help poor people. Instead I found impoverished people who helped me.


What’s Next?

My present prosperity isn’t meant solely for my pleasure. We’re so fortunate in this country to possess more than we need and I believe it’s in order to meet someone else’s need. Now.

Not once the 401(k) is maxed out and the hard wood floors are installed. Now.

The Body of Christ was pre-wired with a generosity reflex. A desire to help. A burden to bless. Mine is Africa. I’ve known it for a while and regret my delay in really responding.

I think this trip was an invitation to join Him. Is it too large a task for God to restore orphans, victims and widows into thriving citizens? No. Is it impossible to imagine that God would use us to participate in this task? Nope.

What a gift! The opportunity to plant seeds, literal and eternal, that yield a guaranteed harvest of hope, grace, peace and unity.

You know, the stuff all those rich people have.

Chris and Daryl – Humbled to call them brothers

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Put A Ring On It: Moving Beyond Social Engagement

Day 1 of Social Fresh WEST is off to an amazing start. It’s always great connecting with new and familiar faces as we learn and laugh together. The slides below are from Put A Ring On It PDF - Adrian Parker - Social Freshtoday’s keynote, Put A Ring On It: Moving Beyond Social Engagement. Be sure to follow along if you’re here in San Diego or online. As always, leave a comment below or send me a Tweet with feedback or questions. [Click here f you want to view the slides directly on SlideShare.]

Stay fresh!

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Mobile and B2B Marketing: Do They Mix?

B2B and Mobile Marketing - Adrian ParkerThough overall mobile usage and adoption is skyrocketing, a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute reveals the majority of B2B marketers didn’t get the memo. Only 1/3 of B2B Marketers have mobile optimized content and less than 25% have mobile applications. The modern business decision maker is perpetually seeking information to inform her long, sometimes complex path to purchase. Mobile screens and connected experiences represent a potent opportunity to get right in front of her face, literally.

Today I had the opportunity to present at the B2B Digital Edge Live Conference in San Francisco. I’m sharing a few concepts that inform why, how and where Intuit’s Accounting Professionals Division is integrating mobile opportunities into their marketing mix.

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4 Things I Learned From A 26-Year-Old Marketing Director

4 Things I Learned from 26 yr Old Marketing Director -Adrian Parker

Several years ago in New York City I met a young guy doing fairly big things. Only 5 years out of college, he had been handpicked to lead marketing, public relations and advertising for the retail division of Liz Claiborne, what was then a $4.8 billion Fortune 500 fashion manufacturer. He named his own salary and secured a semi-corner office in the Empire State Building.

As Director of Marketing, his leadership peers were at least 10 years his senior and had spent several years in the fashion industry, a new vertical for the young up-and-comer.  When we first met, what struck me about him was his apparent confidence – some would say arrogance – and professional demeanor that seemed well beyond his years.  As we got to know one another, inevitably the subject of his age and “success” came up. He shared a few things that I’ve taken to heart throughout my career.

1) Don’t let people despise your age or use it against you. Misperceptions about demographics are part of life.  Age, race, gender and other characteristics are words that describe you, not define you.  Only you can do that.

2) Learn quickly but be honest about what you don’t know.  Great leaders are good learners.  Every new role comes with a knowledge gap that you must quickly close in order to add value to the organization.  It also helps immensely to do a personal audit of your professional assets and liabilities so you can improve in critical areas.

3) Recognize your opponents and allies before they pick a side.  Usually it takes about 100 days to accurately size up the architecture of an enterprise: skills, staff, systems, strategy, etc.  Early buddies may be getting close to figure you out.  Those co-workers that at first seemed stand-offish may just be more guarded than others. Be careful about who you align with and attempt to stay above any existing tensions until you can diagnose why they exist.

4) Lean in to your strengths.  He was a creator, an innovator and a change maker. The iconic Liz Claiborne was in desperate need of his skills and he knew how to quickly move the brand needle.  A key success element to any position is knowing the specific job you were hired to do and the role you fill.  In his case, the fashion house had plenty of style gurus but not many brand drivers.  He knew his role and where he could be accretive to the vision.

As you may have guessed, that 26-year-old corporate stud muffin was me.  I learned all these things because I really didn’t do any of them with the level of diligence that I would have liked to.  In hindsight I can glean powerful pearls of insight so I’m grateful for the lessons learned.

It’s funny how life is lived moving forward but understood looking backward. Happy learning.

The good ol' NYC days when I had a little hair, lots of clothes and a 1.5 hour commute.

The good ol’ NYC days when I had a little hair, lots of clothes and a 1.5 hour commute.

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10 Things Forbes.com Does Better Than Your Website

Forbes.com is not your grandpa’s pub.  In the last 2 years the website has doubled usage by rethinking their approach to publishing.  The 95-year-old company is now an online experiment engine – using search data, social media and digital tools to run rapid tests that maximize sales, page views and content sharing.

Bruce Upbin, Forbes managing editor, hosted a video town hall at Intuit recently where he shared the news organization’s best practices for engaging readers via digital participation.  With more than 29 million readers and growing, it’s a story worth noting.  Below is a quick recap of the 10 simple tactics that Forbes.com is doing better than most websites.

1. Individual as brand.  Each of their 900 freelance contributors takes ownership for the success of their content, with Forbes as a facilitator and central resource.  Writer compensation is proportional to viewership so the best rises to the top.

2. Data is everywhere. Take a stroll through the website and you’ll notice that each article’s performance metrics are pretty easy to discern.  This “data transparency” builds mutual accountability while ensuring that readers can easily navigate to what’s most relevant.

3. Outsource control.  When talented, empowered contributors meet a century-old news organization, the staff’s job is to get out of the way.  While they inject guidelines, best practices and editorial reviews into the process, Forbes also maintains a level of professional autonomy that sparks wonderful dialogue.  Some of their more controversial articles are here, here and here. Oh, and can’t forget about this one.

4. Social sharing is caring.  Forbes uses big, prominent social sharing tools that make it easy to promote the content you care about.  This one is a no-brainer.

5. Transparency and openness.  Each writer has a clear bio and profile that provides an instant snapshot of their agenda, profession and body of work.  As the line between journalism and blogging gets increasingly blurry this practice helps build credibility by allowing the reader to decide for themselves.

6. It’s still about journalism.  There’s no panacea formula but the Forbes.com approach is simple: great insights, experiences and news written about people we relate to by people we relate with.  They are far from perfect, and readers are quick to point out their editorial mishaps, but they do remain progressive.

7. Power of partners.  Forbes works with brand sponsors and media allies to bring this real-time production to life.  Most recently, they carved out a portion of their blog platform (built on WordPress ) for brands to use to power their own conversations.

8. Content is content.  The Forbes story count has increased by 45%.  While news articles and stories are cornerstones of the content mix they are not the whole pie.  Videos, imagery and multimedia can sometimes tell stories in ways that words  can’t.

9. What they stand for doesn’t change. In 95 years the Forbes approach to news values has remained steady.  What they represent is part of their DNA, how they represent it will continue to evolve.

10. Build a scalable content model.  Each morning Forbes.com holds a content planning session to map out the day’s digital activities while using Campfire, a web-based group chat tool,  to maintain real-time conversations with editors, contributors and collaborators.  They can flex up at a moment’s notice and ensure the publishing workflow is moving forward.

Search and social have doubled their portion of inbound traffic to Forbes.com and its readership outpaces similar sites.  I continue to be an avid, sometimes rabid, reader of the site and can vouch for the tactics above.  Forbes has transformed their online offerings by building a platform that embraces experimentation and adaptability.  So what’s the catch?  This approach also required relinquishing control so they could focus on grander goals – engagement.

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Just a Test… pay no attention

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What I Learned About Love

When we opened the hospital room door we didn’t know what to expect.  Would she be crying? Sleeping? Had they moved her to another room? Was this even the right room?

As my wife and I peeked around the door I was slightly in awe and fully in amazement.  My sister Erica was waltzing around the room whispering to this neatly wrapped collection of tiny blankets cradled in her arms.  As she turned to face the open door we spied the most precious sight – Trinity Dawn Bennett.

Trinity is the newest addition to the family and she made her grand appearance on January 26 – just 18 months after her older sister Taylor.  The room was serene.  Erica wasn’t tethered to any machines, the lights were dim and, except for the ambient sound of the TV, all was still.  Taylor’s dad had to make a house run and my parents left a few minutes before our arrival.  My wife and I were the only party crashers.

After a few minutes my wife volunteered me to hold Trinity.  I think she has ulterior motives but that’s another subject for another day.

Seated in a chair, I carefully fashioned my arms into a man-made baby hammock and she transferred Trinity into my care.  I sighed, relieved she landed safely.

She sucked her thumb with her eyes closed. I held her tight, imagining that somehow my warmth and presence would keep her at peace.  I gradually eased into a more comfortable position (baby hammocks are tough on the arms) and began to hum a song.  After a while I looked down and she had fallen asleep.

As I rocked her little life back and forth I began to think about how God feels when he’s holding me. Am I His baby?

Here I am. Helpless.  Clueless.  Needy.  Intensely unaware of my total dependence yet content in my little world. A sleeping baby.

And there He is.  Strong.  Alert.  Caring.  Intently unashamed to be my total benefactor yet concerned in my daily needs. A loving Father.

Trinity doesn’t know me yet but she will.  I love her like my own.  How grateful I am for a God who does the same.

Thanks for the lesson Trinity.

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Good From Bad?

In the days following the tragic tsunami in Japan that claimed 28,000 lives, I recall seeing a Facebook post from a college buddy.  He was sick and tired of hearing about a God who would allow such senseless pain and refused to believe God existed at all.  It broke my heart that mourning for loss could push someone even further away from healing.

Like now, I didn’t have an answer.  I attempted a very biblically scholastic response, stating that “time and chance happen to us all” and no one knows why these things occur.  It’s simply not for us to understand, I added.  Of course this reply was quickly suffocated by the other commenters who also decided they’d had enough of this “good God” thing.

I felt like “good” had lost and “bad” won.

What’s The Verdict?

Over the past few days I’ve written blog posts asking myself 2 things:

1) Does cancer have a purpose? What is the ROI of pain?

2) If we think of cancer in the broader sense (anything destructive that causes death, decay and disease), why does God allow cancer at all?

What do you think?  (Seems like a great time to test drive the poll plug-in).

The interesting thing is, though I still don’t have an answer, the online and in-person discussions regarding this subject have convinced me of a 2 things.

  1. Bad things lose their power when we let them go.  In order for anything to be destructive it must be present (in proximity) and potent (capable of damage).  While we can’t always control what’s present in our lives, we do influence the amount of personal damage inflected.  Big problems look a lot smaller when we face them head-on.
  2. As much as it bugs me, I was never intended to have all the answers.  There is no formula for overcoming life’s storms or recreating rainbows.  They happen and we react, respond and relent as best we can.  God gives us just enough information to get from here to heaven and the rest is yet to be told.

This week I came across this song by Laura Story called “Blessings.”  It’s a ballad that explores how good can come from bad, deliberately, by design and in love.  Check it out:

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Getting Ahead by Letting Go. Forgiveness in the Workplace

I forgave someone today and it felt pretty good.

Forgiveness is a concept that seems more appropriate for a Sunday school lesson than a business strategy but that’s because it’s not a strategy at all. It’s a principle. And principles tend to do the darndest things – they exist whether we lend them credence or not.

Though it can’t be measured, tracked or scheduled, forgiveness can be implemented. I believe it’s essential for a healthy coexistence between any two people with a pulse, and absolutely necessary at work.

Questions I asked myself today:

  1. How hard is it to forgive peers and/or partners when they don’t meet my expectations of performance?
  2. The mistakes of leaders are often amplified. Why do they seem so hard to forgive?
  3. Are there professional challenges on my team that are rooted in the personal issues of co-workers who won’t let go of past faults?
  4. When was the last time I was blatantly wronged by a colleague? Did I retaliate or respond?

To be clear, forgiveness is not a synonym for compromise or lack of accountability. Forgiveness is an approach to managing your mental resources so adversity and disagreements actually create opportunity and positive transformation. Or put simply, forgiveness is the discipline of moving on.

This certainly requires you to know when, where and how to implement. Forgiveness is not overlooking faults in performance or experience. Forgiveness is not making excuses for errors or incompetency.  And forgiveness is certainly not a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for all issues, quite the opposite.

The cobbled pathway to forgiveness is frequently made up of the same tough conversations as the pathway to resentment. So what’s the difference? Forgiveness empowers you to take those stones and build something positive that benefits yourself and others.

Forgive frequently. Especially if you work with or know me.

AP

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